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My home built wet tumbler


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#1 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:09 AM

I thought i would post some pictures up of my build. I decided I wanted to

go to the wet tumbling method with stainless media but i didn't want to pay 180 for a tumbler and i wanted to be able to tumble

more cases at one time than the thumler tumbler. So i decided to build my own. I did research and found some pictures of others

that had build their own.

I had some scrap metal laying around my shop so i drew up some plans and welded some 1 1/4" square tubing for my base.

I used 2" angle iron for the bearing supports. I used a hole saw to cut the 1 3/8" holes for the bearings. on the one end i tack welded the bearings in.

on the other end i made a piece of flat steel and cut 1 1/8" holes in it to hold the bearings in so you could remove and install the shafts after the rubber hose

was put on the shafts. Speaking of that i used some 1/2" heater hose to cover the drive shafts and give some grip.

Rough bill of materials:
Emerson 8000 1/4hp electric motor $78
A19 V-belt $3.25
4 末 152-08005 nova set collars $2.00 each $8 total
4 末 215-020 stens wheel bearings 1/2" x1 3/8" $2.50 each $10.00 total
2 末 1/2" zinc plated steel shafts 36" long $5.00 each $10 total
1 末 1 1/2" aluminum pulley $3.50
1 末 3" aluminum pulley $4.25
4 foot 1/2" heater hose
2 inch angle iron as needed
1 1/4" square tubing
7"x7"x 1/8" piece of flat steel


I started taking pictures late so here are the first pics from after i got the frame welded together.

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here are the bearings and collars I used. i also purchased 2 - 36" 1/2" zinc plated steel rods for the shafts


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#2 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:10 AM

This is the electric motor i used. i picked it up on sale at my local blain's farm and fleet for 78 bucks

Also pictured is the belt i used from my norby's farm fleet. the pulleys used are a 1 1/2" pulley for a 1/2" shaft and a 3" for a 1/2" shaft

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Here are the final pictures with a ruler in place to give an idea of demensions.


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#3 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:11 AM

I had a problem this weekend with my cheap drum taking a crap.

so i couldn't find any 8" pvc locally so i decided to go with 6" and see how it worked.

I calculated i had enuff room to make a 2 gallon container just right for the 10lbs of media i bought and it basically doubles

the size of the thumler. here are some pics of making it. I took a 1 1/2" piece of pvc pipe and cut it in half then cut about a third of that off.

I then glued and riveted them in the drum sealing the rivets inside and out with silicone.

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#4 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:11 AM

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So tonight everything was dry so i through in 6lbs of 40 cases, 10lbs of media, just under two gallons of water, tablespoon lemi shine and a big squirt of dawn

i tumbled for 2 hours and 10 minutes and this is what i got. this was the whole batch pretty good i think i could go to 7 or 8lbs no problem. I see no reason to tumble longer what do you guys think


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#5 Jay870

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:23 AM

Very creative, and the cases look very very clean.

But isn't it a huge pain in the ass to separate the cases from the wet, soapy media?

#6 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:30 AM

Very creative, and the cases look very very clean.

But isn't it a huge pain in the ass to separate the cases from the wet, soapy media?



a little more tedious but i dump the water out then fill the container again and pour out again. i do this 3 or so times then i use my

frankfort arsnal separator i got with my dry tumbler kit. i fill the bucket with water put the separator over the top, dump the cases and media in,

rotate slowly at first then when most of the media is in the pale i rotate faster getting the rest of the media out. then i shake it over the pale and dump

onto a towel and fold towel over and dry the cases. switch towels spread out and turn fan on and dry for 3 or so hours.

the big plus is no media in the primer pockets to deal with.

so to me the little more pain in separating is worth it for the bling factor. :D

#7 sperman

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 06:54 AM

How fast does that motor spin your drum? It looks like you went up on the pulley diameter in the second set of photos.
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#8 hankfan79

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:05 AM

What does this offer that a normal tumbler for under $100 doesn't? Besides being wet of course.

Edited by hankfan79, 15 June 2011 - 07:06 AM.

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#9 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:14 AM

How fast does that motor spin your drum? It looks like you went up on the pulley diameter in the second set of photos.



my motor is a 1750 rpm motor.

i switched pulleys to slow down the drum a little. it was right at 100 rpm drum speed with the 1 1/2" pulley and 3" pulley

i went to a 4" driven pulley and now it is about 75 rpm drum speed.

just toying with it and i thought 100 was a little fast. the thumler tumbler that you can purchase has about 40 rpm drum speed.

#10 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:16 AM

What does this offer that a normal tumbler for under $100 doesn't? Besides being wet of course.



bling factor

no media in primer pockets

primer pockets get cleaned and inside of cases are cleaner

and it is faster than the dry tumbler for me.

i had to tumble for about 8 or more hours to get them shinny and they still weren't as good as

the wet method does in 2 hours.

#11 Youngeyes

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:21 AM

I love homemade things. They bring a lot of extra pride to a very fulfilling hobby. Nice work. Could you drill in a few drain holes with plugs at the bottom? Putting the jar under a tap or hose should help the rinse. Maybe a small strainer inside at the bottom to keep the heavy dirt away from the brass.You can take it out and clean it if needed. Just thinking. :cheers:
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#12 Shadowrider

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:35 AM

Looks good!

#13 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:38 AM

here are a couple of short videos showing the motion.

one is with my first drum that just didn't work out <_<

the second is with my pvc drum.

the first one drum speed is 100rpm and the second one it is 75rpm




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Edited by biggdawg, 15 June 2011 - 07:38 AM.


#14 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:40 AM

Here is the stainless media i used. you can pick it up at buffalo arms or pellets llc

it is stainless steel wire media

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#15 The_Vigilante

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:31 AM

Nice set-up. Now when are you going to start mass production and sales of this set-up?
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#16 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:37 AM

Nice set-up. Now when are you going to start mass production and sales of this set-up?




lol never even thought about it. :D

might have to think about it.

#17 cardiackid

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:36 PM

A lot of guys following the stainless media thread over on Snipers Hide have been begging for bigger tumblers (everything from 25-30 pounds to concrete mixer sized tumblers. You just might have a market there :cheers:

#18 gabeechman

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 02:20 PM

Very nice setup. I like the way the brass looks out of these, and best of all is the lack of dust. That alone is almost worth getting one of these.

#19 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:07 PM

I did a batch of 223 tonight, 7lbs about 500 cases.

i took pics along the way to show my process.
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#20 biggdawg

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 07:08 PM

here are the rest

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#21 cardiackid

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:56 AM

Very nice setup. I like the way the brass looks out of these, and best of all is the lack of dust. That alone is almost worth getting one of these.


Just to follow up on this: I left my old RCBS Rockchucker set up with a Lee Decapping die in it (the universal model) and de-prime all of my cases prior to tumbling. No, it's not anywhere near as fast as just vibratory tumbling and then de-capping, sizing and trimming with a Dillon setup or doing pistol all on one toolhead. However, by de-priming everything first on the RCBS and then doing the SS tumble then (shortly in the future when I get my 1200) doing re-size, trim on a 550 toolhead and then all of the loading on another, the Dillon will be virtually immaculate aside from some spilled powder granules. I cannot believe how clean my press stays without a bunch of carbon flaking, dust, spent primers bouncing around everywhere and the stainless method is really no more time consuming than using dry vibratory media aside from de-capping prior to tumbling. It is a bit expensive for the start up, but you can't argue with the results. The best thing is that as long as you are careful with not losing any of the stainless rods, they'll literally last a lifetime. I have taken some of the nastiest, grungiest range brass I can find and it comes out in brand new condition inside, primer pockets and outside. Right now the big thing limiting high-volume shooters is the rotary tumbler capacities, which he has already found a workaround with.

#22 BBBB

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:52 AM

You seem to have created something that works exactly like you want it to which is always very satisfying. It didn't seem to take a lot of iterations either which I think speaks to your talent in this area.

The pictures seem to show you rinsing the brass in the bathtub and the (kitchen?) sink. I guess I don't know for sure, but wonder if this isn't a way to cause lead contamination. If you're pouring lead contaminated water into a sink where you are perhaps washing your produce or washing cooking utensils, maybe that isn't the best idea. Even in the bathtub I would worry about it getting on your skin while bathing. If you have kids living in the house or kids that visit from time-to-time I would worry more.

I'm not crazy paranoid about lead but have always felt it was best to keep the shooting related stuff in my shooting related area (the garage in my case) and wash up when I am done.

Maybe you could put a sink in your garage where you could do the rinsing and also wash up before you come in the house.

Just a suggestion.

#23 sasquatch981

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 12:43 PM

What about using a small cement mixer like these:

Then you dump in the water, the brass (large amounts), media, etc, and wander away for while.

Is there any reason this would not work?, if you built your own "base" might be easier than making a PVC tube.

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B000BPK766

or even use one of these

http://www.northernt...56929_200356929
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#24 glynnm45

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 06:54 AM

If you could add a little more detail it would surely help me in getting all the parts together. For instance: length of the 6" casing(pipe) used; appears about 16" or so. The reducer on the fill end appears to be a 6" down to a 4" or 3" and the cap (the blue cap on the fill end) is the part I need the most help with. BTW, super project to do and I already have all the parts laying around except for the bearings and that blue cap. Thank you in advance for your information.

#25 biggdawg

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 07:22 AM

If you could add a little more detail it would surely help me in getting all the parts together. For instance: length of the 6" casing(pipe) used; appears about 16" or so. The reducer on the fill end appears to be a 6" down to a 4" or 3" and the cap (the blue cap on the fill end) is the part I need the most help with. BTW, super project to do and I already have all the parts laying around except for the bearings and that blue cap. Thank you in advance for your information.



the container is 16 3/4 long before i put the ends on. one end is a cap and the other is a 6" to 4" reducer. the cap is black and it is a rubber pipe cap held on by a hose clamp that comes with them.

the pipe and stuff was bought at lowes it is the sewer pipe stuff not the schedule 40. it is thinner and you have to make sure you get the right caps for the type of pipe you are using.

4" rubber pipe cap


any other questions just ask

i just built an 8" container


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